Financially, ACC reaps top reward from NCAAs

Conference's success goes from court to bank

April 03, 2004|By Alan Schmadtke | Alan Schmadtke,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Regardless of which teams win in tonight's NCAA semifinals in San Antonio, or which one takes home the championship trophy Monday night, this tournament's financial winner already is decided.

It's the Atlantic Coast Conference.

While coaches are concerned with statistics of rebounds and points and such, conference executives focus on "units." Units are the NCAA tournament games participated in by each school. Units have value - $140,964 apiece this year.

ACC teams will play in 19 games in the tournament, three more than the Big East. (The NCAA does not count the title game when it calculates units.)

Duke and Georgia Tech represent the ACC in the Final Four, but it's the Big 12, with Oklahoma State ready to play in one of today's semifinals, that gave itself the most long-term help. Next come the Big East and Conference USA.

Because of how the NCAA calculates units over a six-year period, the Big 12 will gain eight units next year, thanks to this year's tournament. C-USA will gain five, and the ACC and Big East four each.

On the other side of the ledger, the Big Ten and Pac-10 had tournament performances that will cost them money in the long run: The Pac-10 will lose a net 11 units and the Big Ten six. The Western Athletic Conference will lose five.

The men's tournament is the association's biggest cash cow, and tournament participation is how members divvy up the money among 326 basketball-playing members in Division I.

Knowledge of next year's unit value - $152,037, said Joyce W. Collins, the NCAA's director of accounting - permits interested parties to calculate with some certainty just how much money each conference can expect next year when the NCAA sends out tournament distribution checks.

The NCAA sends tournament money to conferences, which then distribute the money according to their own policies.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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